Free Markets, Free People

Bruce McQuain

It all depends on how you define “existential threat”

Our Idiot-in-Chief recently opined that we shouldn’t take the JV team very seriously because they’re just not an existential threat.  Of course when I heard that I had to ruefully shake my head and remind myself that January of next year will be here soon. To paraphrase another yahoo that once occupied the Oval office, it depends on what the meaning of “existential” is.

If we’re doing a hand wave and pretending they’re a conventional force, then yes, they are not an “existential” threat.  They have no airforce capable of penetrating American airspace.  Certainly they have no navy.  And they haven’t any airlift capability or conventional weaponry that poses any threat to the American mainland.

But that’s not the war they’re waging is it?

Of course it isn’t.  They are, instead, waging what used to be termed “unconventional warfare”.  They’re using guerrilla tactics.  They’re targeting soft targets in far away lands.  And, according to a new study, they’ve upped the ante by plenty:

The deadly toll of terrorism around the globe has jumped nearly 800 percent in the past five years, according to an exhaustive new report that blames the alarming expansion of Islamist groups across the Middle East and Africa.

The nonprofit Investigative Project on Terrorism found that an average of nearly 30,000 people per year have been killed by terrorists since 2010, when terrorism’s death toll was 3,284. The authors of the study, which tabulated the numbers through the end of 2015, say that the exponential increase shows two troubling trends: More attacks are happening, and they tend to be deadlier than ever.

“Everyone has known that terrorist attacks have generally been increasing yearly since 9/11,” Steven Emerson, executive director of IPT, tells FoxNews.com. “But the magnitude of the increase of the attacks surprised us, especially in the past five years. Even if you look back at the annual reports issued by the most senior analysts in the top five intelligence and counter-terrorism agencies, there is not one report that predicted or forecasted that we would likely see such a massive escalation of attacks.”

The study notes that most of the attacks have been centered in the Middle East and Africa.

In addition to ISIS, groups like Boko Haram in Nigeria and Al Shabaab in Somalia have been on the rise in the last few years. The Taliban has been resurgent in Afghanistan and Pakistan, where it took responsibility for Sunday’s Easter attack on Christians in Lahore; Kurdish-affiliated groups have been blamed for bombings in Turkey; Palestinian terrorists have waged at least two uprisings in Israel and Al Qaeda has continued to be active in Syria and Yemen, among other locations.

The terror groups, particularly those in the Middle East, have new access to deadlier weapons, which they have used to destabilize governments and terrorize citizens, said Emerson.

There is a method to their madness in the regions mentioned.  Many of the countries in which they’ve waged their terror campaigns have become failed states. So using their tactics of choice, they’ve certainly shown themselves to be a proven existential threat to weaker nations.

But we’re apparently not in that category according to our Prez.  And that’s because we’re big, we’re powerful and we are arrogant.  We also apparently don’t think outside the conventional box.

Meanwhile, as we watch and assess conventionally, the enemy moves and executes unconventionally to the point that the kill rate now is 10 times what it was a mere few years ago.

Oh, and it’s moving from the Middle East and Africa … to Europe and Asia:

They also predict that Asia will see more terror attacks as countries like Thailand, The Philippines and India are perceived as soft targets, and that due to the migrant crisis, violence in Europe will increase over the next two years as extremists continue to exploit the immigration system throughout the EU.

Meanwhile, where we are having “conventional” success against them, they are shifting away from there to more amenable soft targets:

“With ISIS losing large swaths of territory as well as key commanders, its center of operational gravity definitely appears to be shifting to Europe, where it can recruit among the more than 30 million Muslims who live in Europe,” Emerson said.

“Add to this mix the fact that thousands of mosques in Europe are controlled by Salfists, Wahabists and the Muslim Brotherhood – which indoctrinate their followers,” he said, “and you have a future recipe for a massive increase in Islamist terrorist violence.”

But remember, we don’t say “Islamic extremists”.  And what we won’t say and won’t acknowledge, we can’t defeat.  And what we won’t address and thus can’t defeat remains a very real existential threat, simply because we won’t confront them in the reality in which they operate.  When a mall or an airport or mass transit station go up in flames here, perhaps Mr. No Existential Threat will finally acknowledge the truth.

…. Nah!

~McQ

Stray Voltage

It’s almost as if Donald Trump is a Democratic operative:

Hillary Clinton had a gaffe-filled, staggeringly bad week last week. It started with her politicizing Nancy Reagan’s funeral and ended with more explosive allegations that her informal adviser Sidney Blumenthal had directly cut and pasted classified intelligence into an unsecured personal e-mail account. But you wouldn’t know it from media campaign coverage, which has been far more occupied with the GOP primary and the escalation of violent incidents at rallies.

Oh, it got a mention here and there, but the Trump thing (the Trump thing as a whole) has sucked all the oxygen out of the news cycle – and it wouldn’t surprise me if that’s purposefully being done by the media.  You know, I’d be “shocked, shocked I tell you!”

The intolerant New Red Guard were at it at Emory University this week:

Students protested yesterday at the Emory Administration Building following a series of overnight, apparent pro-Donald Trump for president chalkings throughout campus.

Roughly 40 students gathered shortly after 4:30 p.m. in the outdoors space between the Administration Building and Goodrich C. White Hall; many students carried signs featuring slogans such as “Stop Trump” or “Stop Hate” and an antiphonal chant addressed to University administration, led by College sophomore Jonathan Peraza, resounded “You are not listening! Come speak to us, we are in pain!” throughout the Quad.

Yes, friends, chalk markings on the sidewalk put them in PAIN!  Pain I tell you.  They needed protected and the only acceptable way to protect them … the usual, stifle speech and set the university up they way they prefer.

Thankfully a student at Emory understands the danger of pandering to these intolerant crybabies.  Amelia Sims writes:

I agree with the protesters: Donald Trump has neither the character, temperament, nor policy knowledge to assume the presidency. 

However, classifying support for a major presidential candidate as “hate speech” endangers the democracy that we hold so dear.

Universities do not exist to create insulated echo boxes, which shelter students from ideas that provoke offense or discomfort. In class, professors assign ideologically offensive texts so that students may learn to analyze and challenge these arguments.

Quelling discomforting thoughts prevents a free exchange of ideas. It fosters an environment where resentment and radicalism fester and metastasize.

Students certainly have the right to protest, but I worry about a campus environment that frequently turns to shouting and censorship to defeat offensive ideas.

When protests become increasingly dominated by trivial concerns and histrionic displays, Orwellian newspeak and thought control begin to take hold.

Now if college presidents and administrators would grow a spine and follow her lead, maybe TNRG can call it a day and go back to whining about their grades instead.

Meanwhile, the Idiot-in-chief has been playing footsie with Commie dictators in Cuba.  Michael Totten brings a little reality to the gig:

The Cuban people, Castro says, won’t “relinquish what they have gained through great sacrifice.” What he really means is that the government won’t relinquish the power it has gained through bloodshed and repression.

No serious person believes there will be riots in the streets of Havana if people are allowed to earn more than 20 dollars a month. Not even the most ardent Castro apologist thinks Cubans will go into open rebellion if they’re allowed to vote for more than one party. Not a soul fears they’ll yearn to relocate to North Korea if they suddenly find themselves with freedom of speech and assembly.

During Monday’s press conference, Castro lashed out when CNN journalist Jim Acosta asked him about political prisoners. “If there are political prisoners,” the dictator said, “give me a list, right now. What political prisoners? Give me their names, and if there are political prisoners, they will be free by tonight.”

Oh, please. Just yesterday—a few hours before Obama landed in Havana—the regime arrested more than 20 people at a Ladies in White demonstration. Secret policemen dragged women to a police bus and threw men onto the ground and handcuffed them. The Ladies in White is an all-women movement of sisters, wives, and daughters of male political prisoners. What does Castro expect us to believe they’re protesting for?

Read the whole thing.  Totten has been to Cuba several times and doesn’t at all play the politically correct game Obama and crowd would prefer.  He calls Cuba what it is, a shipwrecked state that oppresses its people.

The latest excuse for false racial charges?  Why they “open up conversations”.

Falsely accusing someone of a crime is never okay and society should never excuse it. Sadly, today’s culture allows anyone to accuse someone of rape or racism and seek forgiveness by claiming the false accuser just wanted to “start a dialogue.”

In the recent race hoax at State University of New York at Albany, where three black women started a fight on a bus and accused a dozen white people of attacking them for being black, a professor at the school claimed they were justified because they started a conversation on race.

“My white students have said this has opened up conversations,” said Sami Schalk, an assistant professor in SUNY Albany’s English department. “Things that are inadvertent, small, but that these white students have no experience with, not being a person of color on this campus.”

That’s a bit like saying all Black Lives Matter wants to do is “start a conversation on race”.  It is the cult of the victim desperately looking for victimhood … so, one supposes, they can feel both oppressed and special.

An interesting take on why so many Muslims, especially the young, are becoming radicalized:

As a young Muslim boy growing up in the 1980s and 1990s, it was impossible for me to look up a hadith unless I traveled to an Islamic library, something I would have never thought to do. For all intents and purposes, if I wanted to know about the traditions of Muhammad, I had to ask imams or elders in my tradition of Islam. That is no longer the case today. Just as radical Islamists may spread their message far and wide online, so, too, the Internet has made the traditions of Muhammad readily available for whoever wishes to look them up, even in English. When everyday Muslims investigate the Quran and hadith for themselves, bypassing centuries of tradition and their imams’ interpretations, they are confronted with the reality of violent jihad in the very foundations of their faith.

The Quran itself reveals a trajectory of jihad reflected in the almost 23 years of Muhammad’s prophetic career. As I demonstrate carefully in my book, Answering Jihad: A Better Way Forward, starting with peaceful teachings and proclamations of monotheism, Muhammad’s message featured violence with increasing intensity, culminating in surah 9, chronologically the last major chapter of the Quran, and its most expansively violent teaching. Throughout history, Muslim theologians have understood and taught this progression, that the message of the Quran culminates in its ninth chapter.

Surah 9 is a command to disavow all treaties with polytheists and to subjugate Jews and Christians (9.29) so that Islam may “prevail over all religions” (9.33). It is fair to wonder whether any non-Muslims in the world are immune from being attacked, subdued or assimilated under this command. Muslims must fight, according to this final chapter of the Quran, and if they do not, then their faith is called into question and they are counted among the hypocrites (9.44-45). If they do fight, they are promised one of two rewards, either spoils of war or heaven through martyrdom. Allah has made a bargain with the mujahid who obeys: Kill or be killed in battle, and paradise awaits (9.111).

Muslim thought leaders agree that the Quran promotes such violence. Maajid Nawaz, co-founder of the Quilliam Foundation in the United Kingdom, has said, “We Muslims must admit there are challenging Koranic passages that require reinterpretation today. … Only by rejecting vacuous literalism are we able to condemn, in principle, ISIS-style slavery, beheading, lashing, amputation & other medieval practices forever (all of which are in the Quran). … Reformers either win, and get religion-neutral politics, or lose, and get ISIL-style theocracy.” In other words, Muslims must depart from the literal reading of the Quran in order to create a jihad-free Islamic world.

Interesting that the solution is to “reject literalism”.  That and the fact that the Quran is now available to everyone without the buffer of an imam’s interpretation.  Of course there are also plenty of imams who push this very Surah as the reason Muslims must become activists.  Read the whole thing.

Our final insanity comes from a known place of insanity, UC Berkeley, where students have a demand:

The University of California in Berkeley administration must decide whether to provide abortions on campus to students who deem their uninterrupted education more important than the lives of their unborn children.

The Berkeley student senate has passed a resolution demanding that abortion, referred to as “medication abortion,” be made available on-campus so that female undergraduate and graduate students could “continue their education with little disruption.”

The resolution explains that the university’s Tang Center used to perform abortions in the 1980s, but now there are no longer trained abortionists at the center. Abortion is a right, their logic goes, and so abortion access is a right, too.

The resolution does not suggest how to fund its demand. But Aanchal Chugh, primary sponsor of the bill, told Campus Reform that school administrators should be willing to take pay cuts in order to fund on-campus abortion services. Students, she says, should not bear any financial burden.

You have to wonder how these spoiled children would feel if they knew their parents had had so little regard for their lives that they’d made the same demand in their day?  Of course, such a demand in their parents day would have received a raucous horselaugh (well, maybe not a Berkeley).  It’s all about their convenience.  They don’t want to have to leave campus to abort their child:

There are five abortion providers within 15 miles of the Berkeley campus, all of which accept MediCal health insurance. FPA Women’s Health, four miles from the campus, performs free abortions for women who lack health coverage for the procedure.

And, of course, they don’t want to pay for it.  Prototypical Bernie Sanders voters.

Have a great weekend!

~McQ

A litany of failure

This is what happens when you let the inmates run the asylum:

Some St. Paul public schools are unsafe for students and teachers, writes Katherine Kersten, a senior policy fellow at the Center for the American Experiment, in the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.

A Central High teacher was “choked and body-slammed by a student and hospitalized with a traumatic brain injury,” while another teacher was knocked down and suffered a concussion while trying to stop a fight between fifth-grade girls. There have been six high school riots or brawls this school year.

Hoping to close the racial suspension gap, the district has spent millions of dollars on “white privilege” and “cultural competency” training for teachers and “positive behavior” training, an anti-suspension behavior modification program, writes Kersten.

Misbehavior is initially tolerated and as it is, it become endemic and epidemic.  What’s the penalty for doing so?  Well, teachers are punished with “white privilege”, “cultural competency” and “positive behavior” classes.

Meanwhile where the problem is centered, i.e. with the students, nothing changes.  In fact, the “authorities” then make the problem even worse:

When that didn’t work, “they lowered behavior standards and, in many cases, essentially abandoned meaningful penalties,” she writes. Students can’t be suspended for “continual willful disobedience” any more. Often, students “chat briefly with a ‘behavior specialist’ or are simply moved to another classroom or school where they are likely to misbehave again.”

Behavior has gotten worse, wrote Aaron Benner, a veteran elementary teacher, in the Pioneer Press. “On a daily basis, I saw students cussing at their teachers, running out of class, yelling and screaming in the halls, and fighting.”

Again, this isn’t rocket science. The problem students, knowing they aren’t going to be punished for their behavior, continue to replicate it and push the envelope even more.  All the liberal psychobabble that has led to this point has had inevitable result that teachers live in fear.

Teachers say they’re afraid, writes Pioneer Press columnist Ruben Rosario. He quotes a letter from an anonymous teacher, who says teacher are told there are no alternative placements for violent or disruptive K-8 students.

“(Teachers) have no way to discipline. If a child is running around screaming, we let them run around and scream. If a student throws a chair at the Smart Board we remove the other students and call for help. If a student shouts obscenities, we simply use kind words to remind them to use kind words themselves. I am not kidding. . . .

The only consequence at the elementary level is taking away recess or sending the offending student to a ‘buddy classroom’ for a few minutes.”

Who are the victims?  Well, obviously the teachers.  But there are even more victims which the dominant philosophy within this school district seems to simply ignore:

At this teacher’s high-poverty, highly diverse school, “I have many students in my class who are very respectful, work hard and care about doing well in school,” the teacher writes. “The disruptive, violent children are ruining the education of these fantastic, deserving children.”

No kidding.  So what has increasing tolerance, lower behavioral standards and the refusal to discipline brought this school system?  Failure.  It has failed the teachers who are left to deal with increasingly violent behavior.  It has failed the good students who have their ability to learn and succeed hampered by disruptive students who go unpunished.  And, in reality, they fail the disruptive students, who are never taught the hard lesson that certain behavior is unacceptable and will be punished.

Because, you know, that’s just outmoded thinking.

Oh.  And “race”:

On March 9, a veteran high school teacher was suspended for social media posts complaining about the discipline policy, when Black Lives Matter activists charged him with racism.

Theo Olson, a special education teacher at Como Park High, wrote that teachers “now have no backup, no functional location to send kids who won’t quit gaming, setting up fights, selling drugs, whoring trains, or cyber bullying, we’re screwed, just designing our own classroom rules.”

He did not mention race.

Black Lives Matter had threatened a “shut-down action” at the school if Olson was not fired.

That’s just pitiful.  And the results of such poor leadership within that district are inevitable:

The same day Olson was put on leave, another Como Park teacher was attacked by two students, suffering a concussion. “The two entered the classroom to assault another student over a marijuana transaction gone bad,” an associate principal told the Star-Tribune.  Two 16-year-olds face felony assault charges.

Welcome to the blue education model in action.

~McQ

 

The Junior Varsity strikes Brussels

I think we all knew it wasn’t a matter of “if”, but when.  “When” was today.

Today in Brussels was a demonstration by ISIS.   Unlike our President, they actually back their talk with action.  They’ve been saying for quite some time they were going to strike in a different way – a mass casualty way.  Previously, they were mostly interested in targeted actions, like Charlie Hebdo.

Today, it was about terror … pure and simple.  All the attacks took place outside of secure areas.  Easy as pie.  One in the waiting area to go through security at the airport and one in a subway station.  And it certainly doesn’t take a heck of a lot of sophisticated intelligence gathering.  The timing (rush hour at the subway station, any busy hour at the airport) is pretty easy to figure out.

It could have been anywhere a crowd was gathered.   But we’re not talking rocket science here.  Identify a target, recruit one or more fanatics, explosives … some assembly required (automatic disassembly guaranteed upon detonation).

It could have also happened anywhere.  In any country.  Of course, Brussels is the capital of the EU.  ISIS is big into symbolism when they strike outside their region.

The point of course is you can look for this to happen any number of times in any number of places in the (near) future.  As I said, this is their demonstration.

So where is “next”?  A crowded shopping mall on a sale day?  A stadium sports event?  A political rally?

More importantly what can we do about it … without giving up more liberty and freedoms?

Me, I’m all for taking my chances and playing the terrorist lottery.  I figure I’ve got about as much a chance of winning that lottery as I do the state’s numbers game, er, lottery.

However, that’s not what I expect to see.

Hide and watch.

~McQ

The age of job automation

It’s closer than you think.  Last Friday I put a bit up in Stray Voltage about Dominos testing a robot delivery service in New Zealand.  And I intimated that that sort of automation would be something that would displace labor if labor got too expensive – like $15 for the minimum wage.

Over the weekend I happened across a couple of more articles.  One featured the CEO of Hardee’s and Carl Jr.’s talking about an automated restaurant he’d seen in San Francisco.  And, sure enough, his focus was on labor savings ($15 minimum wages specifically):

The CEO of Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s has visited the 100%-automated restaurant Eatsa — and it’s given him some ideas on how to deal with rising minimum wages.

“I want to try it,” CEO Andy Puzder told Business Insider of his automated restaurant plans. “We could have a restaurant that’s focused on all-natural products and is much like an Eatsa, where you order on a kiosk, you pay with a credit or debit card, your order pops up, and you never see a person.”

Pudzer’s interest in an employee-free restaurant, which he says would only be possible if the company found time as Hardee’s works on its northeastern expansion, has been driven by rising minimum wages across the US.

“With government driving up the cost of labour, it’s driving down the number of jobs,” he says. “You’re going to see automation not just in airports and grocery stores, but in restaurants.”

Good old government.  Helping out again, aren’t they (another way to make you more dependent on them)?  As Pudzer says:

“This is the problem with Bernie Sanders, and Hillary Clinton, and progressives who push very hard to raise the minimum wage,” says Pudzer. “Does it really help if Sally makes $3 more an hour if Suzie has no job?”

Well no, it doesn’t. And then there’s this:

“If you’re making labour more expensive, and automation less expensive — this is not rocket science,” says Pudzer.

Well no, it’s not – er, except to Bernie supporters.  But then it isn’t necessarily easy to automate everyone’s jobs either.  But it is getting easier as technology develops.

Take the restaurant that Pudzer was talking about:

“I would call it different than a restaurant,” said David Friedberg, a software entrepreneur who founded Eatsa. “It’s more like a food delivery system.”

Last week, I was in a fast-moving line and browsed on a flat-screen monitor the menu of eight quinoa bowls, each costing $6.95 (burrito bowl, bento bowl, balsamic beet). Then I approached an iPad, where I tapped in my order, customized it and paid. My name, taken from my credit card, appeared on another screen, and when my food was ready, a number showed up next to it.

It corresponded to a cubby where my food would soon appear. The cubbies are behind transparent LCD screens that go black when the food is deposited, so no signs of human involvement are visible. With two taps of my finger, my cubby opened and my food was waiting.

The quinoa — stir-fried, with arugula, parsnips and red curry — tasted quite good.

And he saw no one other than other customers.  Says the author of the article:

Whether a restaurant that employs few people is good for the economy is another question. Restaurants, especially fast-food restaurants, have traditionally been a place where low-skilled workers can find employment. Most of the workers are not paid much, though in San Francisco employers of a certain size must pay health benefits and in 2018 a minimum wage of $15.

Ironic, isn’t it?  That the prototype “food delivery system” is established in a city in which government has decided it will set the wages.  The laws of economics, or “rocket science” for the Bernie supporters, begs to differ.  There’s no real advantage in terms of labor savings, if the market sets the minimum wage, but mandated wages?  Well, then it comes down to viable alternatives – and cost-wise, this is suddenly viable.  The lower wage job holders of America say – thanks government.

And beyond the obvious, there are advantages to automating:

By not hiring people to work in the front of the restaurant, he said, they save money on payroll and real estate. (There will always be at least one person available to help people navigate the iPads and to clean up.) The kitchen is also automated, though he declined to reveal how, and the company is experimenting with how to further automate food preparation and delivery.

And, fewer to call in sick, give benefits, sick days and paid vacations too.  Make an employer’s job easier, more efficient and more enjoyable and the employer will take that route every time.

“We can sit and debate all day what the implications are for low-wage workers at restaurants, but I don’t think that’s fair. If increased productivity means cost savings get passed to consumers, consumers are going to have a lot more to spend on lots of things.”

Consumers have a choice – spend more for the same thing to help someone else have more money or spend less for the same thing and have more to spend on other things they want or need.  Wal-Mart says they will choose the latter.  So do those pesky laws of economics.

The food industry isn’t the only industry that’s going to see this though:

Automation is transforming every industry. Business owners look to substitute machines for human labor. It happened to blue-collar workers in factories and white-collar workers in banks and even law firms. With self-driving vehicles, it may happen in the taxi and trucking industries. Robots and artificial intelligence machines are expected to transform health care.

Coming sooner rather than later … possibly sooner than we think.

Nowhere is the potential for job automation so obvious as it is in the on-demand economy, where many startups have grown fat with venture capital despite poor unit-economics. Uber is spending heavily to hasten the development of driverless cars. Instacart, Postmates, and other delivery-heavy startups are unlikely to stick with humans once machines—which don’t take sick days, need bathroom breaks, or threaten to unionize—can do the same jobs.

But even if you don’t work in the on-demand economy, chances are high that you or someone you know will eventually be in the same position as Fox-Hartin. Machines already exist that can flip burgers and prepare saladslearn and perform warehouse tasks, and check guests into hotels. Companies like WorkFusion offer software that observes and eventually automates repetitive tasks done by human workers. And automation has also crept into knowledge-based professions like law and reporting. When in 2013 researchers at Oxford assessed whether 702 different occupations could be computerized, they concluded that 47% of U.S. employment was at risk of being lost to machines.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

I’d love to tell you this comes as a surprise, but in reality, yeah, not so much.  As I’ve been saying for years, I’m fine with solar power as a concept, but in execution, it’s not at all ready for prime time.

A federally backed, $2.2 billion solar project in the California desert isn’t producing the electricity it is contractually required to deliver to PG&E Corp., which says the solar plant may be forced to shut down if it doesn’t receive a break Thursday from state regulators.

This is the one that burns birds out out of the sky.

PG&E PCG, -0.02%   is asking the California Public Utilities Commission for permission to overlook the shortfall and give Ivanpah another year to sort out its problems, warning that allowing its power contracts to default could force the facility to shut down. The commission’s staff is recommending that it grant the extension Thursday.

You can probably count on it getting a “break” since a) it’s California and b) government only requires accountability from the little people and c) … solar! (Turn a blind eye to those burnt birds littering the ground.  Environmentalism and animal rights are only important when greedy corporations stand to profit.)

Meanwhile, elect Hillary, she’ll get rid of the coal mines and coal miners jobs and then we’ll simply die in the dark.

Welcome to machine world!  Robots are going to soon be taking over all those “$15 minimum wage” jobs soon:

Domino’s have developed possibly the greatest use for robots yet – safe and secure pizza delivery in what the company claims is a world first.

The company is testing pizza delivery by robot in New Zealand, known as the Domino’s Robotic Unit (DRU). The three-foot tall battery-powered unit contains a heated compartment for storing up to 10 pizzas, and is capable of self-driving up to 12.5 miles, or 20 km from a shop.

Economic reality says that when labor prices itself out of business and there is an cheaper viable alternative, people usually go with the alternative.  That’s because economic law is based in human nature, not pie-in-the-sky social justice.

You may have heard of the results of the YouGov survey that showed Millennials have a much higher regard for socialism than capitalism.  No, well, look at the Bernie camp and figure it out.  Helen Raleigh says we have to “educate” the generation about the perils of socialism because they’re to young to have seen it in action and seen the results.

She says:

So if you are a survivor of socialism, whether from the former Soviet Union, China, Cuba or Venezuela, speak up and share your stories. Don’t limit yourself to just your families and friends. Make yourself available to your community, especially neighborhood schools. Contact the local high schools and ask them if you can come to their social science or history class and speak to the kids directly. I’ve spoke at several high schools before. Rather than telling them that 20-30 million Chinese people died during the three famine caused by Mao’s disastrous policy, I shared with them the story of an uncle I never met. He was born during the famine. My grandmother was too hungry to produce any milk to feed him, and there was no baby formula available. He died in my grandmother’s arms. While I was sharing this story, those teenagers were spell bound. No one was checking their iPhones. Many of them came to shake my hand afterwards and said “thank you.” It was a rewarding experience for me.

One problem, Helen.  Where this is really needed would likely find you booed off the stage, while The New Red Guard demonstrated and called you a racist and hate monger.  Other than that, you’re precisely right.

Melissa Click, the asst. Professor fired by the University of Missouri because of her conduct, just won’t go away and has a new whine now:

As a Media Studies scholar, I understand how the increased surveillance resulting from advances in technology like digital recording and wireless broadband has come to mean that our mistakes will be widely broadcast — typically without context or rights of rebuttal — exposing us to unprecedented public scrutiny.

But I do not understand the widespread impulse to shame those whose best intentions unfortunately result in imperfect actions. What would our world be like if no one ever took a chance? What if everyone played it safe?

It has nothing to do with “shaming”, Ms. Click.  It has to do with accountability.  Intentions don’t mean squat.  Actions do.  Welcome to the real world.  Now, go away.

And finally, this visual pretty much says it all, doesn’t it?

Part-MVD-Mvd6755462-1-1-0

Have a good weekend!

~McQ

A corrupt, inept and bullying government is cause for change

Glenn Reynolds makes the following observation while talking about Merkel’s refugee debacle (one with which I agree):

Fascism, like communism, is an opportunistic infection of the body politic, one that occurs when the institutions — and officeholders — of liberal democracy are too corrupt, or too weak, or both, to sustain business as usual. If you don’t like this outcome, don’t be weak and corrupt.

We’re headed over the same waterfall.  Over the years, we’ve seen our republic sink into political cess pit of the worst sort.  Corruption, cronyism, selling of political favors, governmental bullying, factionalism .  Add to that uncontrolled and unpunished bureaucratic over reach, government infringements on rights to a previously unheard of level, the law used as an oppressive tool instead of a protective one and uncontrolled spending resulting in massive debt.

The government, as first designed, has ceased to function that way.  The lines of separation between the 3 branches of our government have become so muddled and indistinct that that the government is almost unable to do its most basic job.   What we’ve seen is the willful ignoring of the Constitution by all three branches that has brought us to the point that those in power are now thought of more as enemies of the people than representatives.

Paul Rahe points out one of the reasons we’re where we are today:

The truth is that modern liberty depends on the power of the purse. All of the great battles in England in the 17th century between the Crown and Parliament turned ultimately on the power of the purse. The members of Parliament were elected at least in part with an eye to achieving a redress of grievances, and that redress was the price they exacted for funding the Crown. Our legislature has given up that power. Our congressional leaders claim – once the election is over – that they have no leverage. If that is really true, then elections do not matter, and a redress of grievances is now beyond the legislature’s power. Absent that capacity, however, the legislature is virtually useless. Absent that capacity, it is contemptible — and let’s face it: the President and those who work under him have showered it with contempt.

That basic contempt for the law, the demonstrated weakness when it comes to doing their job, their capitulation to special interests and greed and their ignoring the fact that the vast majority of people, on both sides of the political isle, are fed up with them and what they’ve built is where the electorate’s rage is grounded.

Tell me, does this remind you of any period or periods in history?  Certainly faint echoes at least.  Many of the dynamics at work then don’t exist now, but the fact that government wasn’t working for the majority in those two instances can also be said about what is happening here now.  Why else would a billionaire reality TV show star and a clueless socialist be as popular as they are?

It is another cry for drastic change in the way our representatives do their job and the way our government is run.  Obama was the same thing.  Now the choice is even worse.

Lump that all in with a historically and economically illiterate citizenry and it is a dangerous mix.

This is all headed for a showdown somewhere down the road, either soon or in the near future.  The question is, what will survive the event when it happens?  And is it possible that we can somehow see a leader emerge who can articulate the building rage (Sanders and Trump can do that) and actually LEAD us to reforming government to the point that it is again on the track it was originally supposed to be on?

For the first question, I have no idea.  As for the second, I have no confidence that such a person exists at this point and if he or she does, that this is at all recoverable.

~McQ

The GOP’s plan to have a brokered convention

Or, let’s pretend we follow the rules when it is to our advantage, but let the people believe they’re a part of the process otherwise:

Political parties, not voters, choose their presidential nominees, a Republican convention rules member told CNBC, a day after GOP front-runner Donald Trump rolled up more big primary victories.

“The media has created the perception that the voters choose the nomination. That’s the conflict here,” Curly Haugland, an unbound GOP delegate from North Dakota, told CNBC’s “Squawk Box” on Wednesday. He even questioned why primaries and caucuses are held.

Haugland is one of 112 Republican delegates who are not required to cast their support for any one candidate because their states and territories don’t hold primaries or caucuses.

Even with Trump‘s huge projected delegate haul in four state primaries Tuesday, the odds are increasing the billionaire businessman may not ultimately get the 1,237 delegates needed to claim the GOP nomination before the convention.

That last line, of course, is the out.  No 1,237 delegates, no automatic nomination, regardless of what the majority of the electorate want.  Of course, that electorate is largely ignorant of “the rules”.  As for the 112 “at large” delegates, also known as the “fudge factor”, anyone want to guess who names those delegates and to whom they’re beholding?  Clue: it isn’t a candidate the establishment doesn’t want.

So:

This could lead to a brokered convention, in which unbound delegates, like Haugland, could play a significant swing role on the first ballot to choose a nominee.

Ya think!

And this is where the smugness creeps in (like this fellow really wanted the rules “to keep up”):

“The rules haven’t kept up,” Haugland said. “The rules are still designed to have a political party choose its nominee at a convention. That’s just the way it is. I can’t help it. Don’t hate me because I love the rules.”

Of course, if Trump hits the delegate total before the convention, it’s all moot.  But, the Republican version of the Democrat’s Super Delegates build in a fudge factor that could be the difference between a Trump nomination and a brokered convention.  And once the convention gets past the first ballot, it is anyone’s ballgame … well, except Trump.  The establishment, would again, rule. The people?  Well, get over your frustration, your betters will decide what’s best for you … by the rules!

So?  So anyone who thinks that the parties would really leave the choosing to “the people”, get a clue.  Both sides have “rules” that help the process deliver an acceptable candidate to the established party.

Because, well, you’re not to be trusted with such a decision.

~McQ

 

Watching the Trump protest thing

There’s something very interesting going on in conjunction with the Trump protests recently in Chicago, St. Louis, etc.  It reveals how intolerant the left is, again, and it also points to where this sort of vile and violent behavior is born:

College students now are growing up on campuses strongly influenced by the radicals of the 1960s, which has been fertile ground for an increasingly illiberal and disorderly definition of “peaceful protest.” . . .

Trying to silence speakers they don’t like, along with using human chains and other protest tactics to take over central spaces, violates a norm cherished all the way up to the Supreme Court: that a person who has rented an auditorium has a right to speak, no matter how atrocious the sentiment expressed.

Well, except when lefties are “triggered” by the speech.  Then the speech is deemed illegitimate and rightfully, as they see it, suppressed. The irony, of course, is they and the media call Trump Hitler while it is the protesters demonstrating all the foul attributes of the Nazis.

Interestingly, it comes as as surprise to some members of the media that Trump’s supporters see through the media spin on this and aren’t blaming the left’s actions on Trump.  They think it has to do with ignorance or agreement.  Instead, it likely has to do with seeing through the charade that both the media and the left have put together.

Now it is certainly one thing to protest a candidate peacefully (everyone has that right), but when protesters are committed to violence and confrontation, they’re likely to find it.  You have to remember, the protesters had to travel to the Trump rally to get what they wanted.  No one sought them out for that.  The protesters have also admitted organizing to shut down Trump.  Again, they made a conscious decision to interfere in the other side’s right to hear their candidate.  And they did it precisely like they’ve done it countless times on the college campus where someone had the temerity to invite a speaker who disagreed with their views.

Heather MacDonald lays out the case for the left being the source of the divisiveness we now suffer and are suffering during this political season.  It’s just in their DNA it seems, and as pointed out above, it has its roots in radical academia:

To the mainstream media, Black Lives Matter’s claims and academic identity politics are not “divisive,” they are simple truth. But if you don’t accept those truth claims — and the data refute them — the vitriolic anti-cop rhetoric of the last year and a half, and its underpinning in academic victimology, easily match the alleged divisiveness of anything that Trump has said.

Anyone … from whence were most of the “media” birthed?  Of course they don’t see them as a problem for the left.  They’ve been raised in the culture of left academia and leftist propaganda is their “normal”.  Naturally they don’t see anything inflammatory in the rhetoric of the left or the left’s political candidates.

The rhetoric of Democratic presidential contenders is just as incendiary. Hillary Clinton says it’s a “reality” that cops see black lives as “cheap.” Bernie Sanders says the killing of unarmed black people by police officers has been going on “decade after decade after decade.” In fact, among the 36 “unarmed” black men killed by the police last year (compared with 31 unarmed white men), a large percentage had been trying to grab the officer’s gun, were pummeling the officer with his own equipment, or were otherwise so viciously fighting with the arresting officer as to legitimately put him in fear for his life.

This is the result of the Bill Ayres faction taking over our colleges and universities.  They’ve spawned “The New Red Guard”, and The New Red Guard is now moving out into the streets.

~McQ

Stray Voltage

Interesting:

Just west of Midway Airport, in the bungalow belt dominated by Illinois House Speaker Michael Madigan, some Democrats are defecting to The Donald.

“Right here, I’m a Donald Trump voter,” says retired city plumber Tom Izzo.

“So many Americans are out of job, but we got all these illegals working here. Something’s got to happen,” he says.

Izzo represents a bit of a trend. In 2008, just 6 percent of Chicago primary voters selected Republican ballots. This year, it’s up to 10 percent. And that’s not far away from the 13 percent back in 1980, the year Ronald Reagan attracted so-called blue collar Reagan Democrats.

I’d agree … there is certainly some of that.  But there is also a good bit of voting for Trump in the primaries with no intention at all of voting for him in the general election, but instead, for Hillary.  That said, among blue collar workers, the illegal immigration issue is where both parties are completely disconnected from their voters – or at least those voters who make up the bulk of their base.  You know … the one’s from “flyover” land.

Meanwhile, the pot (and plot) continues to simmer:

Former Hillary Clinton IT specialist Bryan Pagliano, a key witness in the email probe who struck an immunity deal with the Justice Department, has told the FBI a range of details about how her personal email system was set up, according to an intelligence source close to the case who called him a “devastating witness.”

Yeah, we’ll see.  Right now it’s only “devastating” in the media.  We’ve all but been warned that the DoJ is not eager to pursue this at all. And, of course, to this administration specifically, and Democrats generally, the “rule of law” is an inconvenience.

You remember Margaret Thatcher famously saying that socialism worked fine until you run out of other people’s money?  Well, a disbelieving Venezuela is learning the truth of that statement the hard way:

Thatcher’s axiom did eventually catch up with Venezuelan socialism. Even when oil prices were hovering above $100 per barrel, the government’s finances went increasingly into the red. Now that a barrel of Venezuelan crude is trading at only $25, the situation has reached a breaking point. External debt has gone up by 115 per cent in the last decade and inflation is out of control: the IMF says it will reach 720 per cent this year. The situation is so bad that the government recently had to use 36 Boeing 747 cargo planes to import five billion notes of its worthless currency.

Behind the macroeconomic figures is a deepening humanitarian crisis. The government lacks the dollars to pay for imports which, compounded with price controls and their devastating effect on production, has caused widespread shortages. People queue for hours only to find empty shelves in government-run supermarkets. Even if they’re lucky, they can only buy a few products— in return for which they must undergo fingerprint scanning under the country’s rationing system. A national poll found that the percentage of Venezuelans eating two or fewer meals a day increased by more than 10 percentage points last year. Looting is now a common occurrence.

The economic crisis is having a particularly nasty impact on healthcare. According to the Venezuelan Pharmaceutical Federation, only 20 per cent of the drugs that doctors require are available. People must rely on social media to scout the country for medications for their loved ones. The lack of spare parts means that much medical equipment is useless: 86 per cent of X-Ray machines are out of service, for example. “Babies born prematurely are dying like little chicks” was a February headline of El Nacional, Venezuela’s last independent daily. It quoted a resident doctor in one of the public hospitals saying that, due to the shortages, they cannot save the lives of all patients. “We are operating under war conditions,” she said.

So, despite all the examples and all the warnings, things go exactly as they were predicted to go in that country.  Meanwhile, in this country, we have a significant portion who feel that “free stuff” is their entitlement and are feeling the “Bern”.  To me, given all the examples of what they want that have failed in the world, this say a lot about their intelligence … or lack thereof.

The Obama blame game … again:

Barack Obama has sharply criticised David Cameron for the UK’s role in allowing Libya to become a “shit show” after the fall of the dictator Muammar Gaddafi, in an unprecedented attack on a British leader by a serving US President.

Mr Obama said that following a successful military intervention to aid rebels during the 2011 Arab Spring revolt, Libya was left to spiral out of control – due largely to the inaction of America’s European allies.

In a candid US magazine interview, Mr Obama said: “When I go back and I ask myself what went wrong… there’s room for criticism, because I had more faith in the Europeans, given Libya’s proximity, being invested in the follow-up.”

Well one thing he didn’t ask himself is “what would a real leader do”, because he has no idea what leadership entails.  But he knows a lot about casting blame for failures in which he should have been leading.  And, of course, real leaders don’t do that.

Radley Balko points to another encroachment on liberty:

A while back, we noted a report showing that the “sneak-and-peek” provision of the Patriot Act that was alleged to be used only in national security and terrorism investigations has overwhelmingly been used in narcotics cases. Now the New York Times reports that National Security Agency data will be shared with other intelligence agencies like the FBI without first applying any screens for privacy.

Yes, that’s right, the NSA is sharing data domestically now … and it has nothing to do with either national security or terrorism … as initially promised.

Anyone surprised?

And a final update about “The New Red Guard” involves Western Washington University where TNRG wants control:

Students at Western Washington University have reached a turning point in their campus’s hxstory. (For one thing, they’re now spelling it with an X—more on that later.) Activists are demanding the creation of a new college dedicated to social justice activism, a student committee to police offensive speech, and culturally segregated living arrangements at the school, which is in Bellingham, up in the very northwest corner of the state.

Seems legit. No totalitarian tendencies showing there, are there? Well, maybe, just a tiny bit:

At the heart of this effort lies a bizarrely totalitarian ideology: Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime. If they persist in this wrongness, they are perpetuating violence, activists will claim.

The list of demands ends with a lengthy denunciation of WWU’s marginalization of “hxstorically oppressed students.” The misspelling is intentional: “hxstory,” I presume, was judged to be more PC than “history,” which is gendered, triggering, and perhaps violent. It’s easy for me to laugh at these clumsy attempts to make language obey the dictates of political correctness—but I laugh from a position of relative safety, since I am not a WWU professor.

On the other hand, if a member of campus were to insist on the proper spelling of the word, would he or she (or xe) have to answer to the Committee for Social Transformation?

Of course they would. But seriously, knowing this sort of nonsense is rampant at this University, why would any parent want their child to go there? That’s a question the University of Missouri is trying to answer as we speak.

Oh, and one more thing to note – “Student-activists think they have all the answers—everything is settled, and people who dissent are not merely wrong, but actually guilty of something approaching a crime.”

Sound familiar?  Yeah, think RICO and “climate deniers”.  Gee, wonder where they learned that?

Have a great weekend!

~McQ